Brazil’s Lula Nears Outright Win on Sunday, Polls Show

(Bloomberg) -- Just one day before votes are cast, the final electoral polls on the Brazilian presidential race suggest former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva could clinch an outright victory in the first round.

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Pollster Datafolha showed Lula with 50% of valid votes, which excludes null and blank ballots, while President Jair Bolsonaro garnered 36%. A candidate needs more than 50% to avoid a runoff.

This was Datafolha’s largest poll, with 12,800 Brazilians interviewed in person across 310 cities. It has a confidence level of 95%.

Ipec, another highly anticipated poll released Saturday, had Lula with 51% of valid votes, reinforcing the prospects of an outright victory for the former president, and Bolsonaro at 37%. Ipec surveyed 3,008 people in 183 cities.

While both polls have a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points, they indicate Lula is within striking distance of ending the contest without the need for a runoff. If none of the contenders beats the 50% mark, a runoff will be held on Oct. 30.

Still, a survey released in the evening carried out by pollster Quaest showed Lula scoring 49% of the valid votes, just below the threshold, while Bolsonaro had 38%. The Quaest poll was commissioned by brokerage firm Genial.

Lula’s voter support has fluctuated around the 50% mark over the past month, with Bolsonaro struggling to close the gap.

For an eventual second round, Datafolha showed Lula at 54%, 16 percentage points ahead of Bolsonaro’s 38%. Ipec also shows a double-digit lead for the former president, with Lula at 52% versus 37% for Bolsonaro.

In the wake of repeated attempts to undermine the credibility of Brazil’s electronic voting system recently, the president of Brazil’s Superior Electoral Court, Justice Alexandre de Moraes, spoke on a national broadcast to defend not only the electoral system but also democracy.

“Democracy is a collective construction of those who believe in freedom,” he said. “The Brazilian Electoral Justice reaffirms its role as an instrument for the safe and transparent exercise of democratic choices made by Brazilians, in respect of the sovereign popular will.”

(Updates with remarks by the Electoral Court President, Quaest poll numbers)

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